Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Man-Boobies in Guanajuato, Mexico

Since moving to Guanajuato, Mexico, we've lived in four different houses. The first was in a barrio called Puquero. The other three have been in the barrio called Pastita. Without challenge, Pastita has been the best barrio in which to live because of the irrepressible noise factor endemic to Puquero. If you ever find yourself in the position to live in Guanajuato, for any reason, do not live in Puquero. It is loud enough to wake the dead, at all hours of the night, and it never stops. Ever!

Pastita has been ok as far as the noise factor goes. You can hear from here the noise they make in barrios like, well, Puquero. But, it is the canyon effect in full swing and not so much direct noise. This entire city is built in a ravine or canyon so when someone has a party using stereo speakers the size of a small SUV (this, by the way, is not an exaggeration), then you will be able to hear it from where we presently are living.

The first house in Pastita was very nice. This lady, the bruja of Guanajuato, put a lot of money into a series of duplexes and houses that come with almost any convenience you can imagine. They had phones and some even had washers. The problem with this location is that it was on top of a small mountain, making it necessary to have climbing gear to traverse it if you resorted to walking to and from downtown. I didn't mind this so much but there was no oxygen station halfway up the monster climb, making it hard on me because of my asthma.

Another "treat" in these houses was the landlady's dog (it lived on the properties). This animal, which we loved, loved coming into our house to express his affection by making like a water sprinkler over everything in the place. He also could conceivably mistake your leg for a fire hydrant. He was very charming.

Also, this landlady thought it appropriate to come into your house, when you weren't there, and have a little look around. She would also help herself to spare money you might have lying around the house. She would charge gringos, and I mean by that AMERICANS, two to three times what she would charge a Mexican for her houses. We found this out because we can speak Spanish and we asked her Mexican tenants what they were paying for a house. One Mexican lady was paying $400.00 USD for a studio apartment and the lady turned around and charged some American friends of ours $800.00 for the same place. The woman had no scruples.

A pair of rare Mexican gems owns the new place we live in now. Not only are they trustworthy but also, to get us into one of their places, they actually lowered the rent for us since we are reliable gringos. She even arranged to have a phone put into the house so we would rent it. We needed it for an Internet connection, something we need for our writing, which pays the rent. I love this woman and her husband and would love for them to adopt us so we could come to their house for birthdays, holidays, and maybe Sunday dinner.

The only kink in this new house is this: The landlady's husband, a university-educated man, used to operate his international insurance agency in this house more than fifteen years ago. Once he built his new facility, which is just one door down from us and clearly marked as his insurance agency with a huge sign, they had this old place converted into a small casita. We have all we need here and personally I love it though I think my wife could do with another location.

This little abode of ours sits on a dead-end street and I mean literally on the street. All the other houses on the block are elevated from the street level and hidden behind locked gates. Ours, however, since it was an office, sits on the street, no gate, no elevation, just street level.

We can't be in the house with our windows open because of its location. With a dentist's office and an insurance agency on the same street, the cars come by and idle right in front of our house, filling it with exhaust fumes. Though this can actually be dealt with (I reach out the living room or bedroom window and knock on the car window and we all have a chat. They then move the cars or turn off the engine.). What cannot be dealt with is that no one who apparently has business with the dentist, who is right across the alley from our house, or the former occupant of our house, the landlady's insurance-selling husband, seems to be able to read the signs that clearly and decidedly delineate where their offices are located.

If we sit with the windows open, people will actually lean into our screen-less windows, yank back the curtains, and ask to speak with the insurance man. Or, they will, as happened to my wife, yank back the curtain to discover her sprawled over a chair reading, and ask to have a toothache attended to. Now, if it's not the dentist (one guy came at 11:00 p.m. one evening asking me to pull his tooth) or the insurance agency they are seeking, they will yank back the curtain and ask to use our bathroom and even if they could have a bite of what we are eating at our dining room table. (Rarely does anyone in Guanajuato have windows with screens.)

I swear the following is true:

Once at 8:30 a.m., while still in bed, someone came pounding at the door rather frantically. I stumbled to the door in my nightclothes. I threw on a pair of shorts but was wearing one of my favorite, partially destroyed pocket tee shirts. The pocket had long ago torn off, revealing a huge gap directly over my left hairy and pendulous man-booby. I love that shirt but it has mysteriously disappeared.

Anyway, I opened the curtain over the door to see two young, well-dressed Mexican college boys with folders in their hands. I unlocked and opened the door, quite out of my mind, and stood in front of them with half of my naked chest showing, in dirty shorts, and in my stocking feet. They promptly thrust their folders, which contained their resumes, and announced they were here to apply for the job. Before I could respond in my just awake-from-the-dead stupor, some young lady pranced up to me, dressed to kill, and also thrust her resume into my face and unloaded the same I-am-here-for-the-job proclamation.

I was speechless.

Surely, I was still in bed and was dreaming this!

Did they really think I was a businessman or professional of any sort standing there with my wooly man-breast swaying in the wind, my grease-laden hair standing straight up like Don King's, and unable to speak Spanish much less English, in my sleepy torpor? I think all I could do was growl at them. I know I must have looked like a drooling stroke victim or, at the very least, someone who had really bad personal hygiene issues, and yet-mark this-they handed me their resumes and announced their intentions.

What were they thinking? I had to have looked liked someone who slept under bridges and went to work each day picking through trash cans in bus stations and there they were standing there making their purpose clear they wanted to come to work for me. Only in Mexico!

To this day I do not recall exactly what I said to them, all three of them, nor what came of them. When I relayed this to my landlady, and after she regained consciousness from passing out from hysterical laughter (I can be funny at times, even in Spanish), told me that her hubby was holding interviews for some position in the insurance agency that used to be in the house I live in and which is right around the corner from us.

Maybe the wife is correct and another location is in order.

But, would it be as much fun?


A Walk Through Mexico's Crown Jewel: A Guanajuato Travelogue

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